Save Money With A Balance Transfer Credit Card
It is estimated that about a third of people fail to pay off their credit or store card balances in full every month, and therefore pay interest on the balance. If that applies to you, the chances are you could save money by applying for a new credit card which offers zero (or low) interest balance transfers. The way this works is that you take out a new credit card offering such a deal and immediately ask them to pay off the debt on your old card. The balance on your old card then becomes zero, and the entire balance goes on to your new card instead, with its zero or low interest rate. A number of card issuers offer these deals. Zero rate offers typically last from five to twelve months. If you are confident that you can pay off the entire balance during this time, they are a good choice for saving money. If you think it may take longer to pay off the outstanding balance, a better option may be to apply for a card which offers a low rate for the entire life of the balance (i.e. until it is repaid). American Express™ offers a fixed, low APR for the life of the balance with its Platinum card. If you are currently paying interest on a balance with your current card, it makes sense to transfer your existing store or credit card balance to another provider. There are a few points to watch out for, however.
1. Check if there is a charge for balance transfers Balance transfer fees are becoming more common as credit card issuers try to recover some of the money they lose by offering interest-free periods. Fees range up to 2% of the total balance. However, there are still several card providers offering free balance transfers.
2. Remember to pay off your balance every month Even though the card issuer offers an interest-free period, you will still have to make the minimum monthly payments by the monthly due date, or you will be charged interest.
3. Avoid spending extra on the card used for the transfer Most credit cards pay off balance transfers preferentially, so if you incur any other debts on the card, they will not be discharged until the entire transferred balance is paid off. That means any new spending will be “trapped” on the card, accruing full interest charges. If you are using your new card to service a balance transfer, therefore, do NOT use it for additional spending as well – use another card instead.
4. Switch again when the introductory period expires If you have failed to pay off the balance completely once the 0% introductory rate for balance transfers expires, you could apply for another card and transfer your balance again. However, if you plan to do this you should always remember, in the month the 0% deal ends, to move the debt again to another 0% offer. This means you will need to apply for another card about six weeks before the introductory period ends. You will need to be well organized and remind yourself to do this.
5. Note that your credit rating may suffer If you apply for a number of credit cards, especially at the same time, your applications will be noted by the credit reference agencies, and your credit score may suffer. The most important preventative measure is to spread card applications out. Do this and most people with reasonable income and no bad debts will be fine, though be aware that there will be a small risk to your ability to get competitive credit in future. Having decided on the type of balance transfer deal you are looking for, do take the time to study the market and see what is available. Do not simply fill in and return the next credit card application form that arrives in the mail. Credit card comparison sites such as www.finest-credit-cards.com can make this easier for you by listing all current card offers for you to choose from, and also have a range of articles offering unbiased advice and information.
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